Thursday, July 30, 2009


I had dinner at Scaramouche tonight, a restaurant that I've wanted to try for as long as I've indulged in fine dining in Toronto. It's been called one of the most romantic restaurants in Toronto because of the number of proposals that have been made there over the years, and I suppose it's because of this that I haven't been to date. It doesn't sound like a place you'd go with your friends.

I finally satisfied my curiosity, and it's really their Summer Lobster Menu which lured me in:

The prix fixe menu comes with 1.5 lbs of lobster out of the shell in 2 courses and hello! Was it ever tasty!!

I started with the lobster ravioli:

And followed that up with the poached lobster:

wL had the steamed lobster below:

And for dessert, I had Scaramouche's famous coconut cream pie which was surprisingly light and just sweet enough without being cloying and artificial.

Now, I will admit that this is the first time I've ever had coconut cream pie so I am no expert, but I think you'd be hard-pressed to find one more perfect than the pie at Scaramouche as far as I'm concerned.

Other observations - the average age of the diners there was decidedly older than wL and I by a good 15-20 years. The dining room decor was rather dated and I was unimpressed by the views of downtown Toronto which it's known for, but the service was impeccable and I loved the complimentary valet parking - it felt very L.A. :)

I had heard that they were closing this year because the condominium they're located in wanted to renovate and build additional residential units but they were able to negotiate an extension on their lease through to the end of 2010 so go check them out if you're so inclined. The Lobsterlicious prix fixe ends tomorrow with the close of the Nova Scotian lobster fishery season but it'll be replaced in August by the Sparkling Menu made up of courses using the freshest local and seasonal ingredients to be paired value-priced sparkling wines from around the world. Bubbly for dinner? Tempting, non?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Letting go

I'm taking an extra long Civic Holiday weekend beginning tomorrow morning when my mother swings by to pick me up for our mother-daughter road trip. We're heading to Sewell, NJ to visit J and his wife, M who are close friends of the family and to indulge in some serious retail therapy at outlets and malls in Philadelphia, and possibly Woodbury Common.

I've spent the last 18 months or so focusing my energies on settling into my new home, so have neglected the periodic additions that refresh a wardrobe. I've become more and more dissatisfied with my options in the morning and have decided it's time to rectify the situation.

The first step is to purge, which, as a packrat, is very difficult for me to do - I finally got down to business tonight after procrastinating the last year. I really should have seen to this before my move but it was easier to pack everything up and unpack it then to sort through it and make decisions about what stays and what goes. Silly, I know. I spent about 30 minutes tonight sorting through my drawers and closet and now have 2 bags - one of which will go to my mother, and the other to be donated. I could be more ruthless - there's still tons of stuff that I can do without - but like any disease, recovery can be slow.

The one good thing about editing before a big shopping trip is that I have a better sense of what styles I've maybe grown out and what needs to be replaced. I can't wait now to hit the first store on Friday!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Generation by KNOLL

This is totally geeky, but how wicked-cool-fantastic-fun is Knoll's new Generation task chair for the office?

Play the video and check out the flipbook on the site. I tried embedding the link for the latter but it doesn't seem to work...Available for order online July 31st!

101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived

I finally finished this and I have to admit I was disappointed. First, because I thought this was a more academic analysis of fictional characters then it actually was and second, because it was such a S-L-O-W read. I just wasn't engaged and I blame this on the fact that I felt misled. But 'tis done.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I came home a bit later than usual tonight having stayed to listen to our analyst call and bumped into a couple of my neighbours in the hall. Seems my neighbours 2 doors down sold their place in the first week above asking(!)

Their unit is my size in square footage with a different layout and assuming they paid the same price as I did, their return on investment was 46%. Forty. Six. Per. Cent. That's a lot of money. I won't lie and say that the thought hasn't crossed my mind to sell given the tight supply in my neighbourhood - but I love my place and I love my neighbourhood and if I were to move elsewhere, it would cost me as much or more for probably less no moving for me. Just daydreaming.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Visual DNA redux

I was looking at all my old posts on memes and quizzes and decided to take this one again since I last did it. While my answers have changed, the outcome hasn't - I'm still a Sofisticat more than 2 years later.

Youniverse Personality TestYouniverse Personality Test

KC Roberts & the Live Revolution

I love that Matt Fullbrook, who plays bass, wears the original Blue Jays cap - even though I'm not a baseball fan.

N and I checked out the Beaches Jazz Festival at Woodbine Park this afternoon and this is where I heard the rockin' cool sounds of KC Roberts and his band, the Live Revolution. His funky beats and singing style reminded me a bit of Jamiroquai and the way he threw in rapping rhymes brought to mind Jason Mraz.

My favourite songs of the 75 minute set were Play My Life, which you can give a listen to here, City By The Lake which he introduced as his rap love song to Toronto, and Let's Get Outta Here - all of which I suspect will be on his upcoming release, Parkdale Funk.

They're performing again Thursday through Saturday in front of the LCBO as part of the Streetfest so if you're in town and are looking for some beats to shake your ass to, check them out.

For more tunes head on over to the MySpace page.

Oxymoron: Straighten to curl

You know how you always want what you can't have? Well, when I was young, I wanted curly hair. Maybe it was because the dolls I played with had pretty ringlets and I wanted to be like them, but I'm Chinese. My hair's straight and it was never going to be curly, no matter how hard I tried...and believe me. I tried.

I remember the first time I ever got a perm. I must have been about 7 or 8 and it was an awful experience because I came home from the salon and cried because my dad hated it as soon as he saw it. I think I went back crying the same day to the salon and my mom's friend who did my hair relaxed it for me and undid the damage, so to speak.

Through the years, I've tried various ways to achieve those perfect curls...perms never did work - I was ever hopeful each time but finally swore off "permanent" solutions after the perm from hell in high school. It's funny since I can't even remember now what grade I was in but it was horrid and I thought my life was over because my hair was poofy and fried. But I did live.

I tried curlers too - the old-school pink sponge ones. I'd roll them in my hair carefully and hopefully before bed but again - big, frizzy poof. Velcro rollers were good for giving my hair body and a bit of a wave, but never the ringlets I craved.

Curling irons didn't seem to work too well either because while my hair came out curled, it was only ever the ends that were curled, no matter the size of the barrel - 1" or 1.5".

It wasn't until I got my haircut last summer the day of my friend's wedding that I finally got the ringlets I always wanted as a kid. Eva styled my hair afterwards and curled it with a straightening iron. Yeah. That's right. A straightening iron gave me curls. Oxymoronic, right?

I went in for my semi-annual-ish haircut yesterday and she styled it again with the iron. I wasn't crazy the first time since the curls were a little too tight, but this time around, they were just right. This is me, right after my appointment - I took this in the change room since the salon was so busy and I didn't want to hold up Eva's chair with her next client waiting:

I thought for sure my perfect curls would be goners when I woke up this morning since I threw my hair up in a loose bun before going to bed but they survived another day! If anything, they looked even better:

So I've decided maybe it's time I invest in a straightening iron for those days when I feel like being a kid again. I've seen some in professional hair & beauty supply shops here but am going to wait and see what the prices are like in the US since I've got a trip planned to Philadelphia the next long weekend in a couple weeks. My little mental shopping list is slowing growing!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Gallery Plan

I've been staring at the empty frames over my sofa for too long now so I've decided it's time to deal with them once and for all. So guess what I did tonight? I used some scrap craft paper I had lying around (see! I knew my pack rat tendencies would come in handy!) and traced out the shapes of the frames and then taped them to my wall:

I'm not convinced that this is the configuration I want but the next to-do on my list tonight is photo-editing...and perhaps browsing etsy for a print or two...?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Butterflies and Birds

Stumbled upon these delovely placemats through my twitter feed:

Which led me to this sweet pendant:

All over at greenergrassdesign.

One Word Meme

Been awhile since I've done one of these. via Adrienne.

1. Where is your mobile phone? bag
2. Relationship? wha?
3. Your hair? ponytail
4. Work? numbercrunching
5. Your sister(s)? younger
6. Your favourite thing? home
7.Your dream last night? nope
8. Your favourite drink? chai
9. Your dream car? disinterested
10. The room you're in? living
11. Your shoes? barefeet
12. Your fears? failure
13. What do you want to be in 10 years? married
14. Who did you hang out with this weekend? mom
15. What are you not good at? sports
16. Muffin? Carrot
17. Wish list item? TulipTable
18. Where you grew up? Toronto
19. The last thing you did? Ate
20. What are you wearing? Shorts'n'T
21. What are you not wearing? Watch
22. Your pet? Nope
23. Your computer? MacBookPro
24. Your life? Crossroads
25. Your mood? Chill
26. Missing? Piglet
27. What are you thinking about? Sleep
28. Your car? Accord
29. Your kitchen? Scavolini
30. Your summer? Cool
31. Your favourite colour? Purple
32. Last time you laughed? 4:30pm
33. Last time you cried? Dunno
34. School? Missed
35. Love? Sure

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Weekend Update

So, long week. On the work front, it's been quiet although I got some news that made me think harder about what it is I want to do next and where it is I want to do it. In fact, the next conversation in a series of conversations is slated for tomorrow morning so I'm got some prepping to do.

Otherwise, it's been a fairly expensive, but fun week. I went shopping Monday night at Banana because AL had an email discount for 25% off. I really didn't need anything but I've been really bored with my wardrobe so I bought a few things, including the linen blouse and shawl cardi here:
banana buys
banana buys by phoenixc featuring Banana Republic fashion

I also ate out almost every day this week: twice for lunch at the Queen Mother Cafe (Monday & Thursday), a Summerlicious dinner at Biff's Cafe (also Monday), take-out Burrito Boyz (after yoga on Wednesday), and finally, lunch at Bocca on Baldwin and dinner at Lee Garden on Friday. I'm not feeling as guilty about my poor diet this week as I thought I would be - particularly as I consumed about 1.5 bottles of wine this week along with those lunches and dinners and there was ice cream cake at work - twice. Next week I will do better.

I vowed not to spend any more money until the next long weekend which is 3 weeks away as I'm planning a shopping trip and visit to J, who lives in NJ, just on the other side of Philadelphia. I've already begun planning the days and while my initial thought was to shop them all away, it occurred to me that I should probably check out some of the sights seeing as I've never been to Philly maybe I'll run up the Rocky steps (though I've never seen any of the movies) and check out the art museum and the Liberty Bell, though I've heard that's rather underwhelming. Is there anything else I should check out?

But! I got to thinking a couple days ago while I was browsing for BBQ grills for my mother. I came across this buying guide and thought perhaps a charcoal grill is the solution for summer grilling since I don't have a gas line out to my balcony and propane tanks are a no-no in my condo. I had my eye on a compact Weber grill at Home Depot which I found online. I spent the afternoon today with my mother, driving from one big box store to another - Rona, Home Depot, Canadian Tire and finally Lowe's. HD didn't have the Weber grill I wanted in stock and I thought I was going to have to go without as I wasn't willing to pay for online delivery fees but I found this affordable, portable and compact Aussie Grills charcoal grill at Lowe's in a brilliant cobalt blue. I wasn't familiar with the brand but upon subsequent research, it's apparently the Weber of Australia, so it must be good, right?

Oh, and I bought an orchid, too - I'm hoping it survives beyond the first bloom. :)

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Langdon Hall

wL and I followed West Side Story with dinner at Langdon Hall. My initial plan was to dine at Bijou again but they were fully booked for the first sitting with people seeing evening performances at Stratford and there's not much to do in town to kill time before an 8pm I decided to look either back in Toronto or something along the way....and that's when wL reminded me of Langdon Hall in Cambridge!

I've wanted to dine there for what seems like forever after seeing it land on Toronto Life's Best of List year after year and finally had my chance!

We settled into our table out on the terrace and decided on the 5-course tasting. I indulged with the matching wine pairings since I wasn't driving - as someone reminded me, you only live once, and who knows when we'll be out that way again?

Our meal began with an amuse of sweet pea jelly with trout, red peppers and cream.

Our first course was a citrus ceviche with a basil chip - I'll have to try serving my basil like that at some point. This was paired with the Gosset Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc blend from Clare Valley, Australia which was perfectly crisp and cool. Unfortunately, it's not available at the LCBO so if I want to taste it again, I may have to order it through the agent, and then, only by the case. sigh.

Our second course differed but we switched half way through so were able to try everything: I had the monkfish with garden beets and young asparagus,

and wL had the grilled octopus with compressed watermelon and pine nuts. The plating's rather disappointing but the contrast in taste and textures made up for it.

Our third course was rabbit with chanterelles, snail ragout and sweet peas, and this may just be my favourite of the meal.

For the fourth, wL had duck with a carrot-ginger puree (sooo yum! I will have to try this too!), asparagus and spinach,

and I had lamb tenderloin with a lamb shoulder cannelloni, artichoke hearts and an asparagus puree.

By the time our plates were cleared away, we'd been dining for 2.5 hours. The sun was setting and I was beginning to feel the itch of phantom bites, so we settled indoors by the fireplace in a couple of cozy wingback chairs for dessert:

Stawberry cromot(?) with coconut sponge cake and creme fraiche

Passionfruit chocolate mousse

All in all, it was a fantastic 4-hour dining experience. The staff was gracious with their impeccable service and we never felt rushed. We were there until 11pm and knowing that we had come in from Toronto, the maitre'd kindly informed us that a room was available should we not wish to make the long drive back. We declined, but one day, I think I will be back for a weekend stay...

West Side Story

I trekked out to the Stratford Festival for the first time in maybe 5 years to see their production of West Side Story. I've never seen the movie in its entirety and have seen bits and pieces here and there, most recently the number that was performed on the Tonys. I was surprised by how many of the songs I actually knew without knowing that they were from WSS.

As to the performance - it was amazing! I can see now why Richard Ouzounian, the Star's theatre critic gave it such a rave review, calling it the one show you had to watch in the Ontario theatre circuit this year.

Chilina Kennedy, the actress who plays Maria was absolutely stunning - she was innocence and love, passion and heart-wrenching despair - the girl can cry on stage like I've never seen anyone cry before!

I had to remind myself of the play's context at different moments because I found some of the scenes and racist slurs offensive - otherwise, it was fantastic. Go see it. I can't imagine that anyone in what seemed like a full-house audience left disappointed.

Friday, July 03, 2009


Is it wrong for me to covet this bag?

It's a crazy sum but it's a classic investment bag that would last FOREVER.

For a long time I was anti-LV. But I finally succumbed 3 years ago with the purchase of the Sonatine below, which I'd been eyeing for at least as long. It was my gift to me for turning 30 and is the most I've ever spent on a bag that I've used maybe only a handful of times because it's not the most practical size for every day.

Anyway, I've been itching to buy things the last couple weeks and was browsing Roots when I came across the Olivia Bag and decided I had to have it as an affordable alternative to the LV bag above. I ordered in online Wednesday and it arrived today!! The leather is super soft and supple and it came with a dust bag made of organic cotton. The Lauren Tote I bought late last year didn't come with a dust bag. Wonder if that's a recent development, or a perk for ordering online?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Vision in White

It's been a LONG time since I indulged in some Nora Roberts romance and that's what I did yesterday with her latest trade paperback, Vision in White, the first of the Bride Quartet.

I whipped through it in a day, and it was wholly satisfying since it required little in the way of intellectual capacity. It was easy and formulaic and it was just what I needed for my mid-week Canada Day holiday.

I'm looking forward to the rest of the series and to see whether or not my predictions for the rest of the couplings are accurate or not. :)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Chanel Sunglasses

I was at Pacific Mall this Canada Day morning for dim sum with my family. We browsed the shops afterwards and I came across an optical shop that had these crazy elegant Chanel eyeglass frames with a single pearl detail in the arm. I recently got new glasses but if I hadn't, I would have been very tempted by the jewel-toned violet frames. I tried googling for them online but came up empty. Instead, I found the sunglasses, which would be more practical for me anyway since I typically wear contacts during the day.

I was chatting with my mom this morning about the possibility of a visit to J and his wife in New Jersey the next long perhaps new sunglasses are in order...?

Update: Just found these frames with the 3 rows of pearls, still beautiful but I'm not keen on the thicker arms - the pair I was eyeing had the single pearl like the sunglasses above.

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